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As it has become more and more common to store personal information online, it has likewise become more important to ensure your estate plan provides loved one’s access to your digital devices. In the US, the smartphone market is dominated by Apple, which also accounts for a large percentage of laptop and tablet use. In late April 2021, the tech giant released new iPhone software that worries advertisers and underscores the company’s new privacy-focused marketing pitch. Accordingly, there has never been a better occasion to address how you might access a loved one’s Apple accounts after their passing.
Apple’s website asserts that privacy is a fundamental human right and thus does not provide access to their customers’ personal information even in death, except when ordered by a court to do so. To best meet such a court order, Apple requests the following information be specified:
- The name and Apple ID of the deceased person.
- The name of the next of kin who is requesting access to the decedent’s account.
- That the decedent was the user of all accounts associated with the Apple ID.
- That the requestor is the decedent’s legal personal representative, agent, or heir, whose authorization constitutes “lawful consent.”
- That Apple is ordered by the court to assist in the provision of access to the decedent’s information from the deceased person’s accounts.
Clearly, these requirements are most easily met when appropriate legal documentation has been left by the deceased. The best way to achieve this is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to include language in your will that provides for access to personal information stored on digital devices. In addition, it is crucial that you update your permissions any time details change.
While expressing great sympathy for grieving families, Apple is unequivocal that it cannot provide passcodes to locked devices. Because such information is encrypted, it is simply beyond the company’s reach. This means that anytime you change a passcode on one of your devices, you need to update your estate planning documents with this new information. Likewise, anytime you add a new device or amplify your online presence, updates are needed.
Apple has been the focus of this article because of their growing push to protect users’ privacy but the same applies to devices from all brands on which you store digital information. In addition, it is important to set out instructions in your estate plan concerning what you would like to come of your profiles on social media, gaming platforms, and any other online spaces in which you maintain a presence.
To learn more about how to ensure all of your assets, digital and otherwise, end up with the right people when you pass, do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm either by calling 417-623-2062 or reaching via the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm